Venous Sinuses are the large veins located in the brain. Their function is to allow blood to flow out of the brain, down through to the neck, and eventually the heart. The venous sinuses are divided into the transverse and sigmoid sinuses, one of each on the left and right, located on the surface of the brain.
What Causes Venous Sinus Stenosis?
Venous sinus stenosis develops when the large veins of the brain are narrowed. One of the most common causes of venous sinus stenosis is an enlargement of arachnoid granulations, valves in the walls of sinuses, and facilitate the movement of cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to the bloodstream. These can protrude into the venous sinuses resulting in narrow pathways.
This condition is considered a pseudotumor because patients exhibit very similar symptoms to those suffering from brain or spinal tumors. As tumors grow, they create pressure that can lead to dizziness, headaches, nausea, and more. Venous sinus stenosis can cause similar symptoms, but the source of the pressure is what differs.
Side Effects of Venous Sinus Stenosis
Venous Sinus Stenosis is a known cause for two conditions: Pulsatile Tinnitus and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension.
The transverse and sigmoid venous sinuses that were previously mentioned, run very close to the ear. Normally blood flow is smooth, but if there is significant narrowing, blood flow can become turbulent. This results in a pulsating, heartbeat-like sound being produced in the vein and picked up by the ear.
Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)
Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension is a condition that is characterized by the presence of high pressure in the head. This pressure produces symptoms such as headaches, vision problems, and pulsatile tinnitus.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) circulates through the brain and spinal cord, constantly being produced and removed from the brain. Venous sinuses are responsible for the removal of CSF from the brain. Venous sinus stenosis impairs the flow of blood from the brain to the neck, and this backlog causes an excessive amount of CSF to accumulate in the brain, resulting in increased pressure and intracranial hypertension. Patients develop symptoms of severe headaches, tinnitus, and/or a decrease in vision.
Treating Venous Sinus Stenosis
In selected patients, a minimally invasive procedure called Venous Sinus Stenting is effective in decreasing intracranial pressure and alleviating symptoms of IIH. This procedure involves surgically implanting a stent to widen the narrowed sinus vein while offering support to the weakened section. This restores functionality to the vein, allowing adequate circulation and relieving pressure.
Venous Sinus Stenosis Treatment at the University of Illinois Neurosurgery Department
Our team of industry-leading neurosurgeons specializes in the treatment and diagnosis of rare and complex neurological conditions and disorders. Our team utilized non-invasive methods measuring the flow within the venous sinus and use magnetic angiography to screen patients that might be candidates for such treatment.
We often treat patients who have been unable to receive the care they truly need. If you are suffering from a complex neurological condition, refer to our contact page to correspond with a member of our team for a consultation!